Men's basketball recruit a BMXer, prepares for South Africa world champs

Kelowna’s Connor McCormack will be a member of Team Canada for the world BMX championships this summer in South Africa. Sean Connor/Capital News

Kelowna Capital News - Sports
By Mike Simmons - Kelowna Capital News
Published: June 25, 2010 11:00 PM

A Kelowna rider will take his skills to a dirt track in South Africa this summer for the world championships of BMX.

Connor McCormack’s placing in last year’s world championships qualified him for this year’s competition. The 17-year-old is balancing an international BMX career with a recent selection for the rookie men’s basketball squad of the UBC Okanagan Heat.

“I’m tired a lot but it’s worth it,” said McCormack, pointing out some of his gym training covers the bases for both sports. For BMX, he practices at the Rutland track. The Kelowna circuit is the only one easily accessible, but a far cry from the Supercross tracks McCormack will face during the South African competition.

“The gate is eight metres high as opposed to two and a half metres.”

With a larger drop at the beginning of the course, riders are moving faster on a Supercross track. With more speed comes bigger jumps and wider corners. McCormack said BMX tracks are made for everyone, from five-year-old kids to anybody else who wants to ride.

However, “a Supercross track is made for elites only,” he said, with most of the jumps across gaps and everything a lot bigger.

A solid showing at the world championships will help McCormack along his way to another goal—making the Canadian Olympic team.

McCormack’s coach Adam Muys works with him on the track, throwing in the benefit of 20 years of riding experience. Muys said McCormack is a very good technical rider and solid over the jumps. “He uses his tall frame to full ability a lot, and he’s able to get through deep sections really well.”

Muys said McCormack will ride in the first year of the junior mens age bracket, competing against other 17- and 18-year-olds. He said McCormack has a shot at doing quite well in the competition, with two previous years of high-level performance. McCormack placed third in world competition in Adelaide, Australia last year and is one of the top first year junior riders.

“It is a bit harder because you’ve got the year above you. He does have a good chance at doing well and making the final, but this is really a prep year for next year.”

Muys agreed the Supercross tracks require practise. McCormack has ridden the big courses during previous runs in Chula Vista, California and in Copenhagen. Muys noted riding on the bigger hill is something to learn in itself, and access to such courses is limited in British Columbia. A prospective Supercross track in Abbotsford has yet to secure necessary funding.

Prior to the world championships, McCormack will stop at an international training centre in Switzerland, where he will have four days to train at a Supercross course.

“There’s quite a bit of extra speed coming off that ramp,” noted Muys. The first jump on the track is usually close to 38 feet, a wide distance but easily traversable with the extra speed.

“There’s a little bit of a fear factor there.”

Muys said riders become more comfortable jumping the wide gaps with practise. The 2010 UCI BMX World Championships will take place July 29 to Aug. 1 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

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